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The Carpet Care-IAQ Link

The link between carpet care and indoor air quality (IAQ) has received considerable attention among facilities professionals.

IAQ is no simple matter. Everything in the building – including occupants – affects IAQ in some way. The components of a facility’s indoor air that are most often affected by housekeeping procedures and materials are particulates, volatile organic compounds, and individual sensitivity.
Science and proven facts are quickly replacing out-of-date cleaning procedures and “seat of the pants” management techniques. The costs, liabilities and risks are simply too high to keep cleaning the way we’ve done it in the past. The times are changing and how we go about our cleaning duties has a major impact on IAQ and the health of building occupants.

Cleaning Carpet

Carpet, by its nature and location, traps and holds most of what is tracked, falls or settles on it. Some have referred to carpet as a sink. Unfortunately, in many facilities, it’s condition is far worse than that.

One benefit – and problem – with carpet is that many colors and patterns do an excellent job of hiding soil and contaminants. Cleaning frequency is often based on a visual subjective judgment. By the time you can see the soil, it already has created an unhealthy and unsafe environment.
To maintain a healthy environment, we must take into consideration our approach to provide prevention. Two elements essential to an efficient maintenance program include daily procedures encompassing regular vacuuming and spot cleaning, and a schedule of periodic overall cleaning to prevent constant build up of dust, dirt and stain. Entry or walk-off mats become a prime source for dirt unless these are vacuumed daily and wet extraction cleaned at least once or twice a month. At times, cleaning crews use hazardous chemicals, ineffective procedures and equipment on carpets that could diffuse in the air and on every flat surface.

The Reality of Carpet Care

There are many things we can do that will have a positive effect on IAQ:

    • Trap soil at entrances.
    • Use residue-free chemicals.
    • Reduce chemical use.
    • Improve filtration.
    • Prevent soiling.
    • Allow adequate drying time.
    • Remove moisture quickly.
    • Mandate training and equipment care.
    • Establish and follow an adequate cleaning schedule.
    • Follow approved cleaning procedures as outlined in the Institute of Inspection Cleaning
      and Restoration Certification Document. A copy of the procedures is available by contacting the Institute at 2715 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661 (206) 693-5675.

(The above is an excerpt of Wm. R. Griffin’s article that appeared in Maintenance
Solutions, Jan-Feb 1995 issue, tel. 414-228-7701/fax 414-228-1134. Wm. R. Griffin is the President of Cleaning Consultants Services, Inc. in Seattle, WA.